The “Playboy” Clubs

The Playboy clubs, first launched in 1960 and peaking with over 1,000,000 members and 25,000 Bunnies, epitomized the mainstream “cool” nightclub of the 1960s. Hugh Hefner was able to leverage the cache from his gentleman’s magazine to the restaurant space, with chic bachelor decor and high-end food. And, of course, there were the Bunnies, one of the pre-eminent American sex symbols of the 20th century. Vanity Fair revisits the wildly successful nightclubs for some behind-the-scenes stories.

A Bunny Thing Happened: An Oral History of the Playboy Clubs, 4.22.11

Bonus: Pictorial archive of the Playboy Clubs in the 1960s:

The Golden Age of the Playboy Club, 11.13.09

The Cheesecake Factory: An American Success Story

What eventually became The Cheesecake Factory started with just the cheesecakes, many made in the basement of family home in Detroit. A move to Los Angeles and the eventual opening of a restaurant to broaden visibility led to one of the more successful chains in American history. Proudly clinging to their mom-and-pop heritage and rich flavors (but with clear California influence), the company is on pace to surpass 300 stores and has recently opened two other branded eateries.

‘The Palate of the Common Man’: The Oral History of The Cheesecake Factory, 10.25.16

Costacos Brothers Posters: Sports Stars Writ Large

For many years sports posters were just action shots. That was fine! However, the Costacos Brothers took it to the next level by marrying pop culture symbolism with superhero posturing to create dynamic imagery that soon became plastered all over bedrooms and dorm rooms all over America. Iconic early posters included “Mad Mac” (Jim McMahon), “Big Game Hunter” (Kirk Gibson), and “The Land of Boz” (Brian Bosworth). SBNation goes all out to tell the story of how some college kids selling t-shirts in parking lots turned into a multi-million dollar enterprise. The piece includes a 15-minute documentary and numerous images of the posters.

Poster boys How the Costacos Brothers built a wall art empire, 2.5.13



A Eulogy for the Pit Trader

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange finally acquiesced to modernization in July 2015 as it shut down the majority of its famous commodity trading pits. These jam-packed pits full of frantic alpha males, with their silly sign language, served as pop-culture shorthand for the striving American businessman in countless movies and TV shows. Electronic trading put an end to all of that. The denizens of the pit were often of working-class backgrounds (unlike Wall Street) and their tale echoes the fate of many middle-class industries.

A Eulogy for the Pit Trader, 3.1.16


The Long, Strange Trip of Coca-Cola in China

Coke broke back into China in 1979 as the communist country tentatively reopened its doors to foreign businesses. After a fitful rise over the following decades China is now Coke’s third-largest consumer. This is the story of the American capitalist giant’s adventures in a country ambivalent about its success.

Opening happiness: An oral history of Coca-Cola in China, 9.12.14

Netscape and the Opening of the Web

Netscape was one of the first heavily used web browsers in the world, and it was created by a handful of astonishingly talented individuals. This transcribed retrospective covers the innocent beginnings of the Netscape corporation as well as the laundry list of impressive projects the principals have worked on since.

On The 20th Anniversary – An Oral History of Netscape’s Founding, 4.3.14

BlackBerry Solved Smartphone Email But Failed to Capitalize

BlackBerrys were one of the most ubiquitous of the early smartphones, its most devoted business users fatiguingly deriding them as “crackberries.” It’s Canadian founders experienced the heady days of the early Internet boom, but RIM’s story is ultimately one of what could have been.

The Rise and Fall of BlackBerry: An Oral History, 12.9.13